Effective connectivity during an avoidance-based pavlovian-to-instrumental transfer task

Daniel J. Petrie, Sy Miin Chow, Charles F. Geier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Pavlovian-to-instrumental transfer (PIT) refers to a phenomenon whereby a classically conditioned stimulus (CS) impacts the motivational salience of instrumental behavior. We examined behavioral response patterns and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) based effective connectivity during an avoidance-based PIT task. Eleven participants (8 females; Mage = 28.2, SD = 2.8, range = 25–32 years) completed the task. Effective connectivity between a priori brain regions engaged during the task was determined using hemodynamic response function group iterative multiple model estimation (HRF-GIMME). Participants exhibited behavior that was suggestive of specific PIT, a CS previously associated with a reinforcing outcome increased instrumental responding directed at the same outcome. We did not find evidence for general PIT; a CS did not significantly increase instrumental responding towards a different but related outcome. Using HRF-GIMME, we recovered effective connectivity maps among corticostriatal circuits engaged during the task. Group-level paths revealed directional effects from left putamen to right insula and from right putamen to right cingulate. Importantly, a direct effect of specific PIT stimuli on blood–oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) activity in the left putamen was found. Results provide initial evidence of effective connectivity in key brain regions in an avoidance-based PIT task network. This study adds to the literature studying PIT effects in humans and employing GIMME models to understand how psychological phenomena are supported in the brain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1472
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience


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